Q: I am an MSHA employee with 23 years ofservice time and my MRA is 56, which I will reach in June. If they offer an early-out (VERA) I am planning on taking it. I am not sure I understand the buyout process, though. If the buyout is offered, is it just a one-time payment or does it also come with the retirement supplement and no reductions for being younger than 62?
A: The Voluntary Early Retirement Authority allows an employee to whom it is offered the opportunity to retire early if he meets the age and service requirements. No cash incentive is offered in a VERA. On the other hand, a Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment (VSIP) does provide a cash incentive. It is paid in a lump sum and treated as earned income in the year it is received. If offered a buyout, you need to be sure that your acceptance of one will be treated as an early retirement and not a resignation from the government. Check with your personnel office.